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China arrests policeman blamed for wrongful conviction

BEIJING — A Chinese police officer who oversaw the case of a teenager wrongfully convicted of murder and executed in 1996 has been arrested in a case that has caught national attention, the official Xinhua News Agency said today (Dec 18).

BEIJING — A Chinese police officer who oversaw the case of a teenager wrongfully convicted of murder and executed in 1996 has been arrested in a case that has caught national attention, the official Xinhua News Agency said today (Dec 18).

Feng Zhiming, now a deputy police chief in the northern city of Hohhot, was charged with torture to coerce confession, dereliction of duty and taking bribes, Xinhua said.

His arrest yesterday came two days after the Inner Mongolia Higher People’s Court overturned the conviction of Huugjilt, who was 18 years old when he was sentenced to death and executed over the killing of a woman in a public toilet in Hohhot. The court cited a lack of evidence in clearing Huugjilt, who used only one name like many ethnic Mongolians.

Although Chinese police have routinely used torture to extract confessions, especially in high-profile cases, this case has caused public outrage because it coincided with the Chinese government’s recently stated goal to obey the rule of law, and Huugjilt’s case has been made an example of Beijing’s efforts to correct past wrongs.

At the time of Huugjilt’s conviction, Feng was a deputy district police chief in charge of the case. According to the state media, Feng and his colleagues were rewarded for promptly solving the murder case following Huugjilt’s execution.

Huugjilt had told police he found the woman’s body after hearing a cry for help.

A convicted serial rapist and murderer confessed to the crime in 2005. He was never tried for the 1996 killing and has not been executed for the other murders. It took the judiciary another nine years to review the verdict against Huugjilt. AP

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